Looking for a Tripadvisor Cotswolds tour? Read this!
One morning, as we waited to collect our passengers at Moreton-in-Marsh station, a couple approached our minibus and inquired, “Are you the Tripadvisor Cotswolds tour?”
“No, we’re Go Cotswolds,” Steve replied. “But you probably booked our tour through Tripadvisor.”
This happens to us quite a lot, in person or by phone or email. It shows us that many travellers are unfamiliar with the concept of online travel agents (OTAs) and how they function.
So, if you’re keen to become a savvier traveller and understand the role of OTAs, read on to be enlightened!
So what is an “OTA”?
Websites like Viator, Tripadvisor, Get Your Guide, Klook, Expedia, Evendo, Airbnb, Booking.com, and numerous others fall under the travel industry category known as ‘OTAs’—an acronym for ‘online travel agents’ or ‘online ticketing agents’.
While some OTAs specialise in hotel bookings, holiday rental properties, or tours and activities, others offer a bit of everything. Nevertheless, they all share one key characteristic: OTAs don’t sell their own products; they sell products provided by other companies or individuals.
The supermarket analogy
Picture this: you need to buy breakfast cereal. You could drive straight to the Kellogg’s factory shop, but for most people, it’s not conveniently located nearby. So, to make their products accessible to a broader audience, Kellogg’s distributes its cereals to large supermarket chains with branches all over the country.
A box of Kellogg’s Cornflakes is a box of Kellogg’s Cornflakes, regardless of where you purchase it.
However, when you buy Cornflakes directly from the Kellogg’s factory shop, all the money goes to Kellogg’s. Yet when you buy Cornflakes from a supermarket, your payment goes to the supermarket.
Typically, the supermarket buys the cereal from Kellogg’s at a discounted bulk rate, then sells it to you—the shopper—with a markup. Kellogg’s makes money from the sale of their products, but the supermarket retains a percentage.
Now consider booking a tour of the Cotswolds
You could book directly on our website, gocotswolds.co.uk (akin to our ‘factory shop’ in this analogy). We would absolutely LOVE you to do this!!
However, we’re a small family business, and we lack the million-dollar budgets required for extensive advertising and marketing to draw you to our factory shop. So, to ensure our tours are visible to as many people as possible, we allow OTAs (the ‘supermarkets’ in this analogy) to sell tickets for our tours on our behalf.
Repeat after me: There’s no such thing as a “Tripadvisor Cotswolds tour”!
Whether you book directly with Go Cotswolds, or through an OTA, it’s always a Go Cotswolds tour, led by Go Cotswolds guides, in Go Cotswolds’ vehicles. The tour remains identical, regardless of where you book it.
The primary distinction lies in where your money goes.
Booking direct vs. a Tripadvisor Cotswolds tour
When you book a Cotswolds tour directly on our website, nearly 100% of the ticket price goes straight into our bank account. As a small family business, this helps us to grow and makes us really happy!
When you book one of our tours through an OTA, however, the OTA takes your payment – not us. After you’ve completed the tour (but never before), the OTA transfers 75% of the ticket price you paid to us. The OTA retains the remaining 25% as commission.
Let that sink in for a moment: one whole quarter of the ticket price (sometimes more, depending on the OTA!) is diverted away from the small family business that does all the work.
Don’t get me wrong: we willingly list our tours on OTA sites because it gets our tours noticed by many more people than we could achieve on our own. Go Cotswolds is, in fact, the Number 1 top-rated Tripadvisor tour in Stratford-upon-Avon, and we’re proud of that!
We appreciate all bookings, no matter where they come from.
But by understanding the role of OTAs and where your money goes, you can make an informed choice when booking your Cotswolds tour – or indeed any tour, activity or experience. Regardless of your choice, we’re here to provide you with the same outstanding Go Cotswolds experience – but of course we’d love it if you’d book direct!